new arrangement will not be official until mid-September when
County Council is almost certain to enact a pair of ordinances
to govern contracted-for police services and to provide $800,000
to set up a revolving fund to pay wages and employee
benefits to officers who take those assignments.
measures were introduced into Council on Jul. 26 by
William Bell, chairman of Council's public safety committee.
Because they were not tagged as emergency legislation, the
earliest they can be enacted is Sept. 13 when Council returns
from its summer recess.
enabling ordinance appears simply to codify what evidently has
been a long-standing ad hoc arrangement. It specifies that
officers performing extra duty "shall be subject to the same
control, standards and work rules that apply to their regular
duty assignments." There is also a provision that contracted-for
services not affect normal levels of patrols and other regular
Meanwhile, as previously reported, an investigation by the
department's internal affairs unit of extra-duty practices and
the off-budget fund which financed them is under way.
letter to Council president Paul Clark, County Executive
Christopher Coons said he will tap into the police department's
overtime budget to allow it to continue to offer off-duty
services. "We face the challenge that many members of the public
will need these contracted services from our county police and
many officers will rely on the additional income provided by
this service," Coons wrote.
Testifying at a meeting of Council's finance committee before
the Jul. 26 session, chief administrative officer David
Singleton said the administration is wary about proceeding with
what amounts to the use of public money without specific
authorization, but regards that as a necessary expedient.
Continuing to have officers available "is important to many
organizations which depend on these services," he said.
He indicated that the
administration is, in effect, relying on Council's willingness
to make everything
legitimate when it returns from vacation. No council
member disagreed on that point.
Speaking broadly of
the administration's approach to the situation,
Clark declared, "I am in full support of this."
"We have no issue
with it," Marge Ellwein told Delaforum after the
committee meeting. She is president of the Fraternal
Order of Police lodge which is the union bargaining
agent for county police
off-duty police services also will be required to
act on faith. They will be told that they will be
billed after Council acts at whatever rate is deemed
necessary to comply with a provision in one of the
proposed ordinances which requires that providing
off-duty services be
Police chief David McAllister agreed to
take administrative leave after he
returned from vacation, according to
communications director Allison Levine.
She said Delaforum's previous report
of his status before the existence
of an investigation was made public was
"It was just a coincidence that they
happened at about the same time," she
Singleton said he could not say what the new rate will be, other
than that it most likely will be higher than $35 an hour, which
organizations now pay. Councilman Jea Street cautioned that it
not be priced out of the reach of nonprofits, churches, and
other organizations with limited budgets "that are the ones who
most need those services."
Singleton told the committee that the off-budget fund from which
officers were paid in the past has been frozen. He said its
current balance is approximately $250,000.
organizations receiving services were charged $35 an hour, the
same amount that officers were paid, it is questionable how a
quarter of a million dollars was accumulated. "Either somebody
didn't get paid or somebody was overcharged," Street said.
Although he carefully skirted providing details about the
investigation, Singleton indicated that one aspect of it has to
do not only with how the fund was accumulated but also how it
was spent beyond providing compensation for the officers. He
would only say an initial look into the situation pointed to
"some practices that are questionable."
remarked that the fund "was designed to have some extra money at
the end of the day." He added that would go "for other uses,"
but did not elaborate.
questionable was the timing of the investigation and the related
placing of police chief David McAllister on paid administrative
leave while the investigation is going on.
account (the fund) has been around for years. ... Everyone knew
the fund existed. It just didn't suddenly come to light,"
Councilwoman Patty Powell said. Powell is retired after many
years of working as a county government employee.
Singleton said he does not know how long the fund and other
practices being questioned were in place, but did not dispute
Powell's contention that they date back through the
administrations of several county executives and tenures of
several police chiefs.
said that the investigation was initiated after Guy Sapp raised
questions after taking office as director of public safety in
April. McAllister reportedly had also raised questions.
activist Marion Stewart, who attends many Council committee
meetings, which are open to the public, asked why McAllister was
put on leave when "he didn't create [the fund] and didn't do
anything to rock the boat."
Singleton replied that he would not go beyond the
explanation previously given in a press statement which said
that McAllister "has a role in administering the fund as well as
overseeing internal affairs investigations." The statement also
said that "the chief agreed to the leave."
told Delaforum that police chiefs signed checks drawn on the
fund but that, through the years, "there have been any number of
people" who were authorized to co-sign. As is common banking
practice with organizations' accounts, each check required two
way are we saying there is any situation of guilt," Clark said.
Bell added, "It's important that ... we don't draw any
conclusions at this time."
initial assumption has been that paying officers from a separate
bank account was a way to avoid a paper trail to those who did
not report the extra income as taxable. To the extent that might
be so, Singleton said that, effectively immediately, they will
receive the extra compensation in their regular pay checks
and it will be reported on Internal Revenue Service W-2 forms.
not clear at this point whether 1099 forms, on which the federal
tax code requires that miscellaneous income of $600 or more in a
year be reported, were issued in the past.
said that officers are permitted to work an extra 20 hours
during any 80-hour pay period. She estimated that, based on rank
and length of service, officers, on average, will now make
about $5 an hour more than before.
Michael Strine, the county's chief finance officer, said that
another element in the situation is the fact that officers on
off-duty jobs routinely use patrol cars and other police
equipment and are covered by workers compensation and other
insurance. "Taxpayers were bearing the burden of all that," he
finance committee unanimously approved Coons's request that
auditor Robert Wasserbach assist in the investigation. Under
terms of a recently enacted state law governing the function of
the county auditor, his doing so is subject to approval by the